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the appeal condensed

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-Mike Holmgren departure story
Keep fighting, be faithful to your fundamentals, and values
The book of Joshua is the final scene of the 2nd act of the Israelites story. It recounts how the Israelites came to possess the land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Not unlike the original garden of Eden, not by military endeavors or strategies, but according to the words of Joshua, by the power and direct actions of God. recount the last recorded intimate moments shared between the Israelites and their human captain. In these chapters Joshua calls on Israel to abandon any thoughts of other gods and to choose Yahweh as their God and remain loyal to Him. It is in these two appeals that we will be spending the bulk of our time today, and also identify the present appeal for God’s people today, before we begin, lets take a moment to pray.
If you have your bibles with you, I would encourage you to turn to , beginning in verse 1.
A long time afterward, when the Lord had given rest to Israel from all their surrounding enemies, and Joshua was old and well advanced in years, 2 Joshua summoned all Israel, its elders and heads, its judges and officers, and said to them, “I am now old and well advanced in years. 3 And you have seen all that the Lord your God has done to all these nations for your sake, for it is the Lord your God who has fought for you. 4 Behold, I have allotted to you as an inheritance for your tribes those nations that remain, along with all the nations that I have already cut off, from the Jordan to the Great Sea in the west. 5 The Lord your God will push them back before you and drive them out of your sight. And you shall possess their land, just as the Lord your God promised you.
This is an important address for Joshua to the people whom he has journeyed with the better part of his entire life. While this would seem to be a point of long over due celebration, the wise Joshua, sees this point as a crossroads, and because of this there is a need for reflection. It is not simply a reflection on themselves, but even more so of where God had been with them, sustained them, and will continue to be with them imploring them to remain faithful. What Joshua is doing is not unlike what the Israelites have done throughout their journeys and conquests. They take time to reflect.
From Exodus to the end of Joshua, there are 5 appeals to reestablish the covenant between them on and God. The Israelites had now come to a plateau in their physical and spiritual journey with God. Joshua knew there was more ahead. He had brought them together to acknowledge their success and lift their vision toward the next phase of life: complete settlement of the land.
Joshua continues in his first appeal following his reminder of their successes by God’s hand.
6 Therefore, be very strong to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, turning aside from it neither to the right hand nor to the left, 7 that you may not mix with these nations remaining among you or make mention of the names of their gods or swear by them or serve them or bow down to them, 8 but you shall cling to the Lord your God just as you have done to this day. 9 For the Lord has driven out before you great and strong nations. And as for you, no man has been able to stand before you to this day. 10 One man of you puts to flight a thousand, since it is the Lord your God who fights for you, just as he promised you. 11 Be very careful, therefore, to love the Lord your God.
Joshua proceeds to enlighten them of the consequences of breaking the covenant and brings to light one particular pitfall, they had historically struggled with, in intermarrying with idol worshippers, Joshua comments how such wickedness would be a downfall of their nation. When looked at, outside of its proper context it appears almost as God issuing a fearful threat. I would suggest it was actually more of a prophecy, and warning. You can read the book of judges for yourself and see the constant cycle of, and the children, Israel did wicked in the sight of God, and they were conquered. God’s protection returned in their repentance. It was a lesson that had to be learned and learned often that their great power as a nation, was not in their numbers, but in their faithfulness to God.
Thus we examine the purpose of these spiritual pauses. in The early history of Corporate Israel there was a systematic precision or determined plan for moving God’s people forward. Whenever the israelites plateaued , at a high level of success, God renewed his covnenant and carefully warned the Israelites of the problems they would encounter in the future, then he sent them well warned into the fate that lay ahead. He did not let them be led by their past triumphs; that is emotions based on their past efforts and experiences, but pushed them into a future focused on his power in past events and his promised help for the future. So it was with the Israelites at shechem. They had reached a new level, and once more God assembled them and called for a renewal of His covenant.
Joshua addresses the people, citing key events from their past, and in light of this reminder again, Joshua appeals to the people to choose to remain faithful and not wander. It is a choice they are presented with. Joshua says:
Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
The people of course, make the promise to remain faithful.
Maybe Joshua could have stopped there, but this covenant was no small matter, he wanted them to understand the weight of their commitment.
I was asked here recently if I could take a week and be the camp pastor at Nosoca. Unfortunately, my schedule and duties here would not allow me to go on such short notice, I told them I would love to next year though. It got me thinking about the appeals I got from my counselors at camp when I was a camper at the end of the week following the pageant we’d have on friday evening. Depending on our age, our counselor would talk about the different influences that exist in the world and the temptations that lay ahead of us as we got older. For each mentioned, we as kids would nod our heads and promise to keep Jesus first and not fall victim to any of the worldly infuences, not fully perceiving what actually would lie ahead. I would later reflect on this experience when it was now me working as a counselor appealing to a group of kids, challenging to keep God first and make a decision to be baptized. I was now not as naive as to what temptations existed in the world. Lust, greed, deceitfulness, and many other temptations were now not as foreign to me as they had been when I was a child. My own innocence was not as present as when I had sat in those circles as a camper.
22 Then Joshua said to the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the Lord, to serve him.” And they said, “We are witnesses.” 23 He said, “Then put away the foreign gods that are among you, and incline your heart to the Lord, the God of Israel.” 24 And the people said to Joshua, “The Lord our God we will serve, and his voice we will obey.” 25 So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and put in place statutes and rules for them at Shechem.
One of the reasons for this appeal to this now settled Israelite generation was that while they had recieved a certain level of stability, their peace was still conditional. The israelites were now currently living in peace, it was a peace within reach of their enemies. The Israelites were not living in Heavenly Canaan, but the earthly one. As we should be aware now, and the people became aware then, all peace on this earth is conditional. The book of Judges proves what , only suggests. There were more examples beyond judges though. Quite a number of passages in 1 Samuel mention how the Israelites completely conquered the philistines and how they came no more into their land. Yet time and time again, the philistines fought again with the Israelites. Theses passages only suggest the tentative nature of peace. The Philistines may not have come again that month, that year, or even again that decade or generation, but come again they would, because earthly peace is tentative.
So as Joshua makes his appeal to the people, like he had done before, and Moses had done before Him, he does so in a time of peace, because their peaceful state was only in the here and the now, not neccessarily in the tomorrow. Joshua’s concern was for tomorrow. Would His people continue to climb to new heights in faithfulness to their God, or would they plateau or worse yet, fall back into old bad habits.
Those of you who are lifetime adventist christians, know all to well peace never seems to last either. Throughout our church history, whether it be at the local level, conference, or GC itself, we experience plateaus and spiritual plains to. It is in these moments we don’t sit idly by during peace twittling our fingers. It is in these moments we recommit, re-examine ourselves preparing ourselves for the days ahead. We’re very good at re-examining others, but often we forget to re-examine ourselves. Its in times of peace, ask God to chisel out what has entered us that shouldn’t be present. Examine our faith and do what is neccessary to build it back stronger. Once we have looked at ourselves personally, its now to time to examine ourselves at our local church level and ask the Holy Spirit to lead us. But in order for us to move in the way he would have us, we have to surrendur even our will to God. You see its not this building that is the church, it is you and me. The church must be moving, working, and faithfully following God’s will. Are we always doing that? It’s a question I hope each of us will examine. I don’t want you to take that as, okay now I get to speak out about all the problems of our church. Actually you are welcome, but I do have a policy when we discuss agenda items in board meetings. You cannot bring up an item for the agenda if you are not willing to be involved in the solution. At the local level, we get to be the hands and feet of Jesus. We have to be willing to go where he would have us. And like the Israelites, any triumphs we experience are not by our doing, but by God’s power working in us. In some ways, I feel that really takes the pressure off! It is by God’s power are we able to accomplish. We are but the vessels.
The book Patriarchs and Prophets has commentary on Joshua’s final appeal. The author Mrs. White says:The noblest testimony to Joshua’s character as a public leader is the history of the generation that had enjoyed his labors: “Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that overlived Joshua.”
When re-trace Israel’s history, not many of its kings and leaders could quite say that. My hope is that each of us will re-committ ourselves to the work God has placed before us.
Some of us here have been worshipping each sabbath all our lives. Many of you have been convicted come back to Lord in recent years. Some here may be in the midst of wrestling with sin, or secret sin that only you and God are aware of. It’s so easy to feel trapped in sin. God is telling each of whether we are wrestling with sin that may seem little or large to come to and allow him to cleanse you. He is the only one who can cleanse us. I can’t, none of our elders can. It can’t be done by simply trying harder.
Some of us are faithfully religious, but inside we don’t have Jesus. Without Jesus, our religion is pointless. Like Israel, we need to ask God to renew in us a right spirit. Ask Him to cleanse us. Are there idols present in our homes? Allow Him to order our steps, and go where he wants to lead us. What is God asking me to do personally for him? What is he calling our church to do as a light for Him? My appeal to you, is to seek God and where he is leading you, what is he asking you to put away? Is he #1?
As Joshua said to His people.
Choose this day whom you will serve, as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord,
Just before the end of Jesus ministry on earth, he delivered another covenant appeal, from himself to the disciples. I want to talk about that as well, but before I take a few moments to that, were going to take time to seperate for the footwashing.
Jesus, knowing his time was short with the disciples. He has just announced his betrayer.
Matthew 26:26-29
26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the[a] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
Following the events of the Christ’s crucifixion and ressurection, the disciples together find him and worship him again. He leaves them with a final appeal and commission. The words he spoke, were actually but a reminder of what he had been telling them all along. This is reminder of the the blood covenant, and oath to remain faithful.
16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
We now take part in fulfilling our covenant to God to be a faithful people unto the end. The communion emblems symbolize Christ’s sacrifice, and also his great love for humanity. It is by his, grace, mercy, and forgiveness.
I’ve asked Elder Robert to have prayer over the Bread.
I’ve asked Elder Mark to pray of the grapejuice.
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